Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Post of Links

First up is an argument between John Sanbonmatsu and Derrick Jensen on the issues of localvorism. First, Sanbonmatsu reviews Keith's The Vegetarian Myth. Jensen responds here, and finally Sanbonmatsu responds here. All of the posts here are long, sustained, and worth reading. I hope to make a longer post about these exchanges later. Right now I just want to add a note about the issues of plants that becomes a major bone (fiber?) of contention. The idea that plants are fully sentient beings is an increasingly popular opinion, but continues to not really be backed up by science. I want to thank Sanbonmatsu for doing some of the legwork on this issue. What we have is the gut feeling of a lead researcher, and a whole bunch of people who want an excuse to not change their behavior. What we don't have is any sort of major scientific work to back up this claim of plant sentience. I think this is something where Matt Calarco's ethical agnosticism is pretty useful. We need to be open to the changes here. But being open doesn't mean automatically accepting, either. And as I have said before, even if comes that plants are sentient, I find it highly doubtful that will change the need for vegetarianism or veganism. It will certainly complicate things, and will shift our ethical relations. However, just because it is impossible to live your life without violence, doesn't mean you get to be indiscriminately violent. We might as well say that the logical conclusion of plant sentience is cannibalism as we could say that plant sentience would mean flesh eating. Put simply, the radical ethical implications of plant sentience is far from being thought out by those who advocate it as an excuse for eating animal flesh.

The phlyo jobs info updated site is really moving at a fast clip. I was just telling someone I felt there were more TT jobs posting for continental philosophy this year. Like, at least three of them.

Clare O’Farrell has an excellent post on Foucault, scientific knowledge, and climate change. Issues of climate change are frequently forcing us to decide how we relate to scientific knowledge and authority, slow violence, and our subjectivity in relationship to the environment.

Speaking of slow violence, I missed this interview (now almost a month old) with Rob Nixon about slow violence. I agree with Nixon that part of the problem is basically an aesthetic one (aesthetics here meant in the political sense that Ranciere uses the term, one of the partition of the sensible). Slow violence covers so many things: ecological devastation, poverty, the destruction of social institutions and public works, etc. In a way this is what the Zapatistas meant every time they claimed that before they fired the first shot, they were already at war. Or likewise, whenever Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that the civil war wasn't an interruption of peace, but merely the war becoming real for white bodies as well as black bodies.

It seems there is a recent study that argues that whenever slaughterhouse work goes up in a community, so does the crime rate. The study controlled for other sorts of boring and repetitive jobs. Clearly, there needs to be further studies before one can make much use of this, but it is a fascinating find. (h/t Eccentric Vegan).

The Wall Street Journal had a recent op-ed against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and how the AETA "has emerged as a central example of how Congress has eroded the legal concept of mens rea, which is Latin for "guilty mind"—a long-held protection that says a defendant must know they've done something wrong to be found guilty of it."

The Rosebuds have a new album out. A solid, mellow, and spooky album. And because we are about animals here, I present "The Second Bird of Paradise"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This blog is banned for hate speech

I was talking to the debate coach at a certain Mass. public school, and she informed me that my blog is banned by her school's internet for 'hate speech'. I understand that such internet censoring software is relatively crude and oversensitive. So, I wouldn't be surprised if this blog was banned for obscenity or whatever. But hate speech? I've been trying to figure that one out all day.

What does Critical Animal Studies have to offer?

The very short answer is obvious: A lot.

As I am writing this paper on CAS and queer theory, I keep thinking about this. My paper is very much about how certain aspects of queer theory help us think through certain issues in CAS. Queer theory does more than simply make visible an abject subject (though it certainly would do enough if it was all that it did), it also provides insights, tools, and methodologies for other fields of research and inquiry. So, I am trying to think through some of the things that CAS can offer to other lines of inquiry, besides simply bringing forth and giving weight to a repressed subject (that of course never being a 'simple task'). For example, I think CAS has allowed me to think through the questions of the biopolitical. The many problems I have with Agamben aside, I think he gets right that the biopolitical is rooted in an anthropological machine. Critical animal studies gives us tools for understanding that anthropological machine, and hopefully tools for dismantling it, as well. Moreover, CAS has given me the ability to understand the central importance of the issue of opacity. I think I have often talked about how wonderful I think Glissant's book, The Poetics of Relation, is. One of the major themes in the book is the political affirmation of opacity. CAS gives us ways to begin to think of ethics and politics with beings who obviously maintain their opacity.

There are many other areas (I am pretty tired right now), but I think we will shortly be seeing more and more research projects that uses CAS to think through and extend projects in other fields, at the same time those fields will continue to influence critical animal studies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Post of Links

There is a new issue of the Journal of Critical Animal Studies out. It includes a review by Adam of HEALTH has a review of the film To Love or Kill: Man vs Animal. HJM of Prodigies and Monsters has a review of Carol Adams' The Sexual Politics of Meat. And Stephanie Jenkins has a review of Nussbaum's The Frontiers of Justice. There is also all sorts of other interesting stuff in the issue, go and read.

Over at New APPS is an important post on Gender and Philosophy Book Series. It's really bad, and deserves attention.

There is also an excellent and riveting interview with Ladelle McWhorter. I have enjoyed her books on Foucault, and I saw her speak at the PhiloSophia conference. An amazing and generous scholar.

Carol Adams brings our attention to some shady practices by Amazon and print-on-demand books. I had no idea.

Karl Steel (of In the Middle) new book: How to Make a Human: Animals and Violence in the Middle Ages, is finally out. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Lastly, I am not really a huge Wilco fan. I find them a fine, usually solid band. But not one of the most amazing bands of all time, as so many others find them. Still, when I saw their new album was on NPR's First Listen, I decided to listen to it. I was blown away. It is like the new album is as good as all the hype they have gotten over the years. Anyway, our music for today comes from that album.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Would you like to be born knowing you would be murdered?

In the recent Kathy Rudy post against veganism, there are lots of issues I would like to address. But most of them are of a factual nature, and not as terribly interesting to respond to point-by-point (however, if you have any particular questions, let me know). I do, however, want to address and think through one point.

At one point in her post, Rudy argues:
The question of killing gets more complex, but if you could have a good life on pasture for many years and enjoyed the gifts of the world, only to be killed as you reached middle age, would you choose that? Or would you choose no life at all to begin with?
Before we get to these questions that Rudy raises, I want to address this absurdity that any animal, even those who live on family farms as opposed to factory farms, reach middle age. I know that historically, before cows were fed on corn in the US but were raised on grass, they were usually slaughtered between 5-7 years of age (except breeder cows and cows used for milk). Now, the average lifespan of a cow not killed is about 20-25 years. The oldest cow recorded lived to somewhere in her mid-40s. To compare to humans, based on the life expectancy in the US, it would be as if you were slaughtered at the age of 19 and a half. Still a teenager, if just barely. But far, far away from middle-age. And while this is talking about the average age that cows were killed in the United States from about the mid-19th century and before, it doesn't necessarily talk about the practices of family farms here currently. I will say that I know a lot of family farmers, and I don't know any that let their animals live into middle-age. The chickens on polyface farms, for example, are allowed to live 42 days.
So, if Rudy's question was reflecting reality, it would be something like this: If you could have a life that includes being ripped away from your family, friends, and children on a whim; if you could have a life that included castration, partial removal of other parts of your body, potentially being branded; if you could have that life and know you will be slaughtered from childhood to late adolescence, would you take it? Rather than having no life at all? Because that is the question that Rudy should be asking. And this is from the conditions from some of the better farms for animals. This is as good as animal production gets. And that is why something like veganism remains essential.

But let us return to Rudy's original question, again. What if we were to get things really a lot better for animals. What if we allowed animals to live to middle age, and what if we didn't engage in so much torture and obvious disavowal of animal sociality, would that be okay? First, let's bracket that we tend to always go back to the worse way to treat beings we plan on eating. Let us pretend this fiction is possible: Would you choose that life as opposed to no life at all? Would you choose to bring a child into this world knowing they will be slaughtered after living only half their life? I don't have answers, but I am seriously curious.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

High school debaters talking about animal rights

The current Lincoln-Douglas debate topic for Sept-Oct is "Resolved: Justice requires the recognition of animal rights"

That means thousands (okay, maybe only hundreds, but my guess is thousands) of High Schoolers will be spending two months discussing the ethics and effects of animal rights. If you have any questions about what this means, ask me in comments. However, if any of you philosophers, theorists, or simply animal rights activists know any school debate teams, now is a time to reach out and help.

Also, any of you with blogs (or if you want to post on my blog) short entries on the idea of the topic justice requires recognition of animal rights would be welcomed, as well.

Just thought I should put this out there. Sorry I am behind on bringing this up, but for whatever reason I didn't know about this until today.

A micro-picture of what is wrong with out health system

So, my wife has been sick, and she was kinda worried it could be strep, so we took her took a local medstop yesterday. She went in, got tested. It wasn't strep, instead this is what was written on her Patient Education Form:
Your throat pain is due to an infection called 'Viral Pharyngitis', commonly known as 'Sore Throat'. This is a contagious illness. It is spread through the air by coughing, kissing, or by touching others after touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms include throat pain worse with swallowing, aching all over, headache and fever. This illness does not require treatment with an antibiotic. [Emphasis added]
So, the doctor gave her two prescriptions, one of which was for Amoxicillin (an antibiotic). Why? No real reason. It won't treat the sickness. It merely adds to the costs of health care in this country. If taken, it stands the chance of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. It will certainly decrease the taker's antibiotic effectiveness for the next six months. And, there is also the slim chance of a major health consequences.

Why do I write about this? Because when we talk about the health care system, we usually are talking about the major actors: insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the various governmental agencies and laws. And all of those are tied in together, but we also need to start changing the way that cost-benefit analysis of individual doctors. On some level we can say this requires patient knowledge (knowledge to know when to ignore a prescription), but that is obviously unrealistic. Anyway, this is another example that we have two problems with our health care system. One is that we are usually underinsured, and underprotected. The other is that people who are insured are frequently given too much care. If you want to know more, read Jonathan Cohn's Sick as a good place to start.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Post of Links

Haven't done one of these in a while. I feel behind. Remember, share anything with me you think I may be missing. Self-promotion is always encouraged.

CK has a post up about cooking shows, and the meat that is featured in them. I highly suggest going and reading it. Basically, he sums up my own ability to dissociate myself from the flesh in cooking shows that I cannot do in the case of the flesh of the grocery store. Perhaps an interesting extension of this would be to figure out why there are times I cannot keep that dissociation going with even a cooking show.

Levi's book, The Democracy of Objects, is finally out (at least the html version). Check it out.

Over the summer, HJM of Prodigies and Monsters got an article published in Rhizomes entitled, "The Becoming-Woman of the Young-Girls:Revisiting Riot Grrrl, Rethinking Girlhood." I think this article continues HJM's trademark ability to combine complex political and identity theory (in this case, particularly the work of French anarcho-communist collective Tiqqun) with the lived theory of punks, queers, misfits, outcasts, artists, monsters, and everyday existence. In other words, go read it.

Adam has a long interview/post up at his blog on trying to rethink vegan praxis. I hope to write some thoughts on it in the future, but until then you should go check it out.

APS has an excellent post on academic translations.

Speaking of monsters (and aren't we always speaking of that?), over at Pop Matters is a short article on our cultural obsession with vampires, zombies, and viruses. (h/t This Cage is Worms)

Jean Kazez has an interesting post on the ethics of lying and misleading people in order to get them to act in ethical ways. It is worth reading.

Over at Kdebate is an interview with Bill Spanos on policy debate the activity, but also on the very existence of policy debate in our political reality. Worth reading even if you don't engage with academic policy debate. And of course, if you do debate, you have to read it. Mandatory.

Did you know they found new fossils that changes a lot of what we believe about humans, ancestry, and all of that? Yeah? Cool. Paleontology basically continues to disturb the fundamental and existential uniqueness of homo sapiens.

This post from David Graeber is worth reading. This is on his theory about the invention of money, and it is really smart.

Lastly, Kathy Rudy (promoting her new book Loving Animals [which continues to believe we can eat those we love]) has made a post on the Univ. of Minnesota's Press blog. I am planning a longer response later, but Carol Adams and Erik Marcus already have responses up.

Wild Flag, a new band including ex-members of the bands Sleater-Kinney, Helium and The Minders, has their first single out. Not only is a great song, but I am a big fan of the music video.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More on using your mac for long-form writing

This is following up my last post on this topic, mostly by copying and pasting comments. First, I want to especially thank Craig and M.Allen for their helpful suggestions. Also, I had some people ask me if there were any similar program suggestions for a windows based computer. Particularly for citation management. Any suggestions, let me know.

First, one category I left of were things to stop time waste (you know, like reading blogs). I have used LeechBlock. Craig makes this suggestion:
I also recommend Freedom. It turns off network connectivity for a designated period of time thus preventing you from wasting your life reading blogs and Twitter. (As I am doing now.)
Which is a good suggestion. I think I might try using this one. I have found that I am just too skilled at getting distracted on the internet, that LeechBlock is sometimes too nuanced of a tool for my work.

On the issue of what to use for word processing and citation management, this is what Craig suggested:
I write in plain text in TextWrangler, where I also markup the text in LaTeX. Marking it up as such allows to easily identify what should be bolded, italicized, and the like should I want to output the text to Word or RTF instead. Unlike proprietary document formats (e.g., Word, Mellel, etc), plain text will most likely always be readable by all computers at all times. Will come in handy when you are editing your complete works on your deathbed in fifty years.For citation management, I use BibDesk, which integrates very well into LaTeX. If you loved the aesthetic features of Mellel (which I had used at the start of my dissertation), you'll die for LaTeX.

I've never used Scrivener, but I understand it can fulfill the same functions as TextWrangler. The advantage of TextWrangler (and LaTeX and BibDesk) is that it is professional quality and free. LaTeX and BibDesk also have the advantage of being open source.

M. Allen also made these comments on LaTeX:
Since I do some technical work, I had trained myself in LaTeX. Thankfully, LaTeX is incredibly flexible in compiling documents, lists of tables, list of figures, and is built with its own bibliography package. TeXShop for mac is free, so my bibliography and writing packages are free altogether.

When compiling the document, I can specify what I want if I don't want the whole document. So, for the job market, just telling it to return "Chapter 4", makes life easy for that (or having people read it).

If you do not do any mathematical work, then learning LaTeX is not really ideal. However, if you do (logic, or in my case, game theory), then this combination made it a great tool for compiling my dissertation.
Lastly, JonEP suggested this for citation management, a browser based solution:
I'd strongly urge you to consider Zotero, not only for bibliography management, but especially if you are girding yourself for the long haul of a dissertation (I just finished one). Zotero is particularly useful for acquiring articles -- as you do research on your computer, you are constantly pulling down articles that are useful to you. Without Zotero, the task of entering bibliographic information about each article is so onerous that it soon overwhelms you. With Zotero, you are able to rapidly integrate new material into your collection and keep it organized and relevant.

I'd also strongly recommend checking out NVIVO, a program that helps you code and analyze your notes. [Nvivo is for windows, and I haven't used it. --Scu]

Now, I haven't used any of these programs, but I figure I would put this out there. And I generally agree about using open source tech. So, there you have it. Any other suggestions? Comments?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The NOT Derrida Wars

I'm back blogging, and we already have a small, low-level fight about Derrida. I think most of us really don't want this to become another chapter in the Derrida Wars. However, the current discussion has provoked some comments from me.

First, Graham Harman began this round with this post here, arguing that Derrida refuses to ever be responsible for his claims. This prompted this extension of that argument by Job Cogburn over at APPS. And it also prompted this defense by Eric Schliesser. And I made this comment, basically saying I think their particular passage doesn't do the work they think it does. But I wanted to expand on some of these thoughts.

First, I think this very strong, affective hatred that Cogburn talks about is interesting. It is one I feel for, say, Heidegger (okay, maybe only Heidegger). What interests me about such an anger is what it can do, how it can be intellectually and productively useful. I sometimes think it can only be useful if the person who gets you so angry is herself an amazing philosopher. Heidegger, his many faults aside, is certainly an amazing philosopher. And therefore, I have learned as much in my articulating my disagreements with Heidegger, than I have from many thinkers I generally agree with. This anger is also a really different feeling from the dislike, apathy, or simple disagreement I might have with other thinkers. Those feelings tend to simply make me not interested in reading those thinkers' books, rather than that intellectually useful. Anyway, I think that Cogburn and Harman have it wrong in their criticisms of Derrida. My hope, though, is that their hostility is philosophically useful for them.

Second, the more important note on the idea of Derrida, and political and ethical engagement. First, let us just say that personally, Derrida was involved in quite a few political and ethical stances on specific and concrete things (I was about to make a list of some, when I realized that Wikipedia beat me to it). That's not the important part. Derrida's philosophy in many places is a direct refutations of Heidegger's own beautiful soulism. I am thinking here particularly of "Force of Law" and Rogues, texts in which Derrida argues for the necessity of calculation in any ethical and political act. Rather than continue in a certain strain of Continental philosophy that refuses any sort of consequentialist politics, and therefore refuses any policy action that cannot be perfect, Derrida challenges us to commit to the need of calculation. This is huge. If we are to follow Jane Bennett's suggestion in Vibrant Matter that what we need are "enabling instrumentalizations", this will mean a some sort of calculative relationship, but an ethical one. I definitely think Derrida helps push into such directions, which certainly means into accountability (literally).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

monstrosity, normalizing, authenticity

So, there is a cool looking conference (I don't have any real travel funds, so I will not submitting an abstract) on monstrosity. Anyway, seems like a good place as any to say something I have been thinking of.

Monstrosity is basically a really good way of thinking all sorts of things that seem opposed to what Foucault called "the normalizing society". Sometimes this is specific to the entire terrain of monsters as opposed to the creation of the category of the abnormals. Sometimes this refers in generic to something monstrous that rebels or resists the normalizing order. Sometimes this refers to all sorts of specific introductions of the monster that we use as metaphors (or whatever) in order to think all sorts of theory: werewolves, vampires (vegetarian and otherwise), ghosts, the weird, the blob, zombies, Frankenstein's Monster, etc. And really, I don't have anything against any of this. I know it is always fashionable to oppose whatever is fashionable in contemporary philosophy/theory, but this is a fashion that I both do work in and lots of people I respect do work in. But I briefly want to talk about something else.

So, I come out of the traditions of goth, glam, and punk when I was in HS. All of them are pretty big fans of monstrosity, excess, the profane, that sort of thing. And while monstrosity, in those circles, might be opposed to normality, but is often used as an indicator of authenticity. Authenticity is another way of thinking specific forms of domination, of thinking specific models of normalizing. Anyway, Adorno wrote an excellent little book, The Jargon of Authenticity, that should be read on this point. I don't have much to say on this point, really (yay, blogging. Throw something out there without fully forming the idea). I certainly don't think that all forms of valorization of monstrosity suffers from the problems of authenticity. But I do think there is a possibility to turn the issues of monstrosity into an existential politics, into something specifically avoids the anonymous, the production of alterity, existing outside economies of the sacred and the profane, bizarre co-mingling, etc. It is not that we need to be opposed to recent academic interest in monsters, but that any new trend requires proper caution in places it can end up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tricking out your Mac for long-form academic writing (especially a dissertation)

So, many of you are in the process of writing your dissertation, and those of you who aren't, do other long academic writing. Anyway, there are lots of products to help you write with a Mac, and most people I talk to don't seem to use many different products to help with their productivity. A quick note here: If you are being highly productive, besides making sure you back-up your work, there is no real reason to play with other systems. But many of you come here because you are goofing off from your work. So, if you are goofing off anyway, you might as well goof off in ways that can help your long-term productivity. So, some products to help you work.

(1) ALWAYS BACK-UP YOUR WORK! I don't have a lot of smart or specific suggestions here. For example, there are pros and cons to backing up on the cloud or not. I would welcome suggestions in comments for specific back-up strategies for macs. But all of you should be backing up in some form or another.

(2) Word Processing:
The main option is, of course, Scrivener. Fairly cheap at $38.25 (that is the educational license version cost), it is versatile, and also allows you to make documents into formats that other people will actually look at. What makes Scrivener such a fun product to work with, is that it allows you to have total control of writing in many different points throughout a long work. It also is great for giving you control at the changing of different parts of the document. Want to experiment how splitting up a paragraph and turning in two will look? You can type it out and easily switch different views to get a good sense of it. Also, the writing mode is perfect for just writing, shutting out the rest of the computer and everything but a surface for putting words onto.

EDIT: Two additional notes for Scrivener, this post from Charles Stross is pretty useful for learning and describing the basics of use. Also, here is an academic template for scrivener.

I haven't had a chance to use MS Office 2011 for Macs, but I have only heard good things. The one I have is pretty terrible in lots of ways, and is mostly used because the world uses MS Office.

I have used openoffice for Macs, and I have to say I was distinctly underimpressed. It is regularly slow, and causes more pinwheel action than most things I do on a Mac. The price is nice, for you grad students, but there are some other really good options.

I have tried two other word processors, and I want to briefly discuss them. One is Apple's iWork's Pages. I enjoyed using pages primarily for making fliers and image heavy texts. I don't do a lot of work with images in my academic writing, so I haven't really used it for that. However, I hear good things. As a standard word processor, it was pretty strong. But not amazing, and I had a lot of compatibility issues.

The other one is Mellel, which I only played around with long enough to expire the free trial. I really liked it a lot. Fast to load, and really controllable writing experience. I definitely felt like I had more control over the aesthetics of my document. But its lack of compatibility (it doesn't support docx, and only supports doc partially) made it not a good investment for me.

There are plenty of other word processors I haven't tried, like Bean and Nisus Writer. I recently was talking with someone who uses Scrivener for all of her long-form writing, and uses bean for all of her note taking and shorter word processing needs. If anyone has any experiance with other word processors I would like to hear them.

(3) Bibliography/Digital Library: I use Bookends. That is also the only one I have any experience with. It is fairly affordable at $99 or $69 (student), and I really like it. Anyone out there with experience with EndNote, Papers, or Sente? I can say that I found Bookends fairly easy to work with, and have never had the sort of problems to make me go and play around with the others. I have heard good things about Papers, but never really used it.

(4) Spelling and Grammar Check: Most of your word processing software will have some sort of spelling and grammar checks (MS Word's Grammar check is pretty decent these days, honestly). However, I suggest Grammarian Pro2. I know some people who cannot stand it, and it requires some active work in the beginning to get it synced to your particular problems and needs, but I think it is worth the effort.

Okay, what did I forget? Other suggestions or reviews? If I get enough of them I will make a follow-up post. Also, I guess I should say I have gotten no money, or even free products, for this post. But if anyone wants to give me free products to review for them, let me know.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I hope all the people in Binghamton are doing well

If you are reading this, let me know if you are alright.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some thoughts on Beautiful Soul Syndrome

I'm working on a paper about vegetarian vampires, and I am engaging with what Tim Morton calls Beautiful Soul Syndrome (following, of course, Hegel). So, some of you have seen some of my arguments here before about how vegans and vegetarians are constantly being accused of suffering from beautiful soul syndrome (not, obviously, in those words), and that for the most part the accusation is bunk. But, I begin to think more about the critique of beautiful soul syndrome, and I realized there is a real threat in the critique as well. Let's detour quickly through Harman on Zizek, and then we will get back to animals.

Recently Harman commented on the absurd comments by Zizek on the Roma. Specifically, Harman wrote that:
However, some (though not Lenin’s Tomb) have suggested that Žižek is simply trying to be a contrarian. I don’t think so at all. I think there’s a fairly sturdy common thread running through all his most controversial political statements (both this one and some of his more controversial statements at the leftmost end of the spectrum), and that is his hatred of “the beautiful soul.” What Žižek despises more than anything else (and this is to his credit) is the assumption of cost-free moral superiority, even when it comes from the Left. He is deeply attracted to those who are willing to pay the price for their views, and that’s why we find him praising Stalin’s forced collectivization and, in the remarks now at hand, apparently praising locals who “fear” the Roma over distant city dwellers making bourgeois multicultural remarks for the Roma against the locals, and so forth.
I hate the defense of Stalin and shudder at any opening of inquests against the Roma, but what I do always respect about Žižek’s remarks on politics is that they’re never actually clownish at all.
Right, so there is something right on at that. And I agree, that being a beautiful soul is really problematic, especially from a political and ethical standpoint (also consider this a beginning of an answer to this question over at AUFS). However, being critical of being a beautiful soul is often what someone does right before they, you know, say or do something horribly violent and messed up. Zizek's frankly racist remarks about the Roma is a good example. But this also happens all the time in discussions of vegans and vegetarians. When someone critiques vegans and vegetarians of engaging in beautiful soul syndrome, of just desiring to be pure (like Pollan often does), they almost always are saying their willingness to accept the world as a violent place means they can now slaughter and eat the flesh of animals.

In other words, we cannot have a critique of the beautiful soul leading us into a worse world. This sort of political and ethical 'realism' cannot be an excuse for racism and needless violence. Deleuze was often fond of saying that doing philosophy required a sort of stutter or a sort of stammer. A way of making language do something it wasn't really designed to do. I often think that political and ethical action requires a type of shambling, a type of shuffling. A way of walking that both rejects the beautiful soul while at the same time not allowing that to become an excuse for us to not have ethical commitments.

I'm back

So, I know it has been almost exactly 4 months since I updated this. Sorry about that. It was a very whirlwind time for me, and I will get to that in a moment. However, some maintenance issues first.

(1) I know I missed responding to several emails. It wasn't personal (more on that below!), but if you have an outstanding email from me, let me know. I will get back to you this time (promise!).

(2) At some point I stopped reading other blogs, as well (sorry!). When I checked it again I had over a thousand blog posts unread, so I just told it to restart. What did I miss? Any great new blogs to read? Anybody release new books or important articles? Anybody got new jobs? Any massive wars? As always, self-promotion is encouraged.

Now, what I have been up to. I got married. I went on a honeymoon. I dealt with some serious family existential crises. I dealt with some family health issues. I moved. Three times. Seriously, I did three moves since I last updated this blog. Okay, I am not going to expand upon the wedding and other such things. It will be pretty saccharine and self-indulgent. So, if that isn't your thing, if maybe you decided to watch the Republican Presidential debate tonight and are afraid for our future, you might want to stop reading now. For the rest of you, don't say I didn't warn you!

The wedding was wonderful. It was held in the Cuban Club in Ybor City in Tampa, FL. The Cuban Club is a gorgeous building, which a rich and interesting historical past. Also, even more importantly, according to Ghost Hunters, it is haunted. I saw no personal signs of this, but I was a little distracted. The ceremony was presided and written by HJM from Prodigies and Monsters. It was beautiful, and included readings from Judy Grahn and Audre Lorde. To give you a taste, here are our vows:

SCU: I, James K. Stanescu, take you, Sarah Wright, to be my best friend, my most trusted confidante, my favorite being, my love, from this day forward. I promise to always be kind, patient, attentive, caring, gracious, and mostly good-humored, even in the midst of grading finals. I promise to never take our relationship for granted, and to daily renew the commitment we make today, straight into the hereafter.

SARAH: I, Sarah Wright, take you, James K. Stanescu, to be my best friend, my most trusted confidante, my favorite being, my love, from this day forward. I promise to always be kind, patient, attentive, caring, gracious, and mostly good-humored, even in the midst of my residency. I promise to never take our relationship for granted, and to daily renew the commitment we make today, straight into the hereafter.

Yeah, pretty awesome.

Also, Sarah's younger brother is a professional actor, and he performed Mike Birbiglia's hilarious D-U-Why?! from This American Life. You can hear the original here.

The reception was all vegan Latin inspired menu, with a 17 piece big band, the Cigar City Big Band. The groom's cake (that's a thing, just in case you didn't know. Grooms get their own cakes, it seems) was a chocolate, peanut butter, and banana mousse. It was decorated to look like Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. Click here to see a picture of it. MLA of P+M set up a twitter account as if I was live tweeting my own wedding, and several of the people involved with the wedding added their own mock tweets. Feel free to go laugh at me over here. Actually I am thinking of using it as my own twitter account now.

The honeymoon was awesome (except for some weird drama some of you know about), and I don't really feel like going into all the other stuff. But, my new plan is to return to regular schedule blogging. Hope you all have been well.

I'm happy to be back, back again.